In Arc, a square construction made of steel scaffolding is suspended above the stage. Three performers are lying asleep on it. They awake, scared and dazed at their surroundings like abandoned children. Fear soon turns into mischief as they balance and swing on their industrial jungle gym. Mischief turns into something more as the boy and girl notice each other, to the chagrin of the remaining girl. She becomes malicious, snapping the restraints that hold the scaffolding so that it spins and pivots around its axis. The performers have to scramble to hold on and soon realise that too much weight on one edge will cause the whole thing to rotate, like a life or death physics lesson. Once they get to grips with counterbalancing the structure, they relax and learn to manipulate the scene with precision and synchronicity. The whole piece is a story, interspersed with contemporary acrobatics that are complemented with serene background music. The performers have absolute trust in each other and are in tune with their movements – they have to be for the sequence to work.
Every Action brings us a single length of rope suspended on two pulleys. Three men and a woman enter, intrigued by the contraption. They quickly realise that pulling down on one end of the rope will shoot the other up into the air and think of a number of tricks that can take advantage of this. Once more, counterbalancing is key – when one climbs the rope, the other must keep the other end anchored, a fact that escapes the performers some of the time. The alternative is to climb each end of the rope together, in partnership. The rope becomes a swing for the woman to perform tricks on; it becomes a set of restraints that tie up one man like a marionette doll. The whole sequence is tongue-in-cheek, artistic and inventive. It complements the Penguin Café music perfectly.
Both performances are effective, but almost a bit too long and drawn out. Whilst building a picture with contemporary artistic merit, the finished article is just a touch bland and diluted.
Ockham’s Razor plays at the Underbelly Circus Hub (venue 360) until August 26 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.